These Are the Most Popular Baby Names of 2017

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iStock

Millions of babies were born in the U.S. last year, and the most popular names chosen by American parents were Emma and Liam. Exactly 19,738 Emmas and 18,728 Liams were born in 2017, accounting for 1.053 percent of female births and .954 percent of male births, according to data recently released by the Social Security Administration.

Liam's ascension to the top of the boys' list marks the end of Noah's three-year streak as No.1. This year Noah was bumped to the No.2 slot, followed by William in third place for the second consecutive year. James, Logan, Benjamin, Mason, Elijah, Oliver, and Jacob round out the top 10.

On the female side, Emma continues to dominate. It was listed as the most popular name for baby girls for the fourth year in a row. Also for the fourth year running, Emma was followed by Olivia in second place. Ava, Isabella, Sophia, Mia, Charlotte, Amelia, Evelyn, and Abigail make up the rest of the list.

For an idea of what baby naming trends will look like a few years down the road, you have to look at the names that saw popularity spikes between 2016 and 2017. On the boy's list, Wells enjoyed the biggest boost, jumping 504 spots from 1419th to 915th place. Kairo, Caspian, and Nova all climbed high up the list as well.

The girls saw even more dramatic increases. After ranking No.2426 in 2016, Ensley now occupies the 965th spot. Oaklynn, Dream, and Oaklyn also made impressive gains. Melania made the fifth biggest jump last year from No.1650 to No.930 (the popularity of the name Donald, meanwhile, remains unchanged from 2016 to 2017 at No.488).

26 of Noah Webster’s Spelling Changes That Didn’t Catch On

Noah Webster had a lasting impact on language in the United States. Before publishing his American Dictionary of the English Language, he produced a series of spelling books (including the one pictured above) that dominated American classrooms for almost a century. He was a proponent of spelling reform, believing that more regular orthography would not only make learning easier, but more importantly, it would distinguish the American way from the British, “an object of vast political consequence” to a young nation. Some of his suggested reforms caught on and still mark a difference between American and British writing: he replaced “colour” with “color,” “centre” with “center,” “defence” with “defense,” “plough” with “plow,” “draught” with “draft,” and “gaol” with “jail.”

However, many of Webster’s reforms went nowhere. Here are 26 spellings that didn’t catch on—at least until the dawn of LOLcats.

1. Cloke — cloak

2. Soop — soup

3. Masheen — machine

4. Tung — tongue 

5. Greef — grief

6. Dawter — daughter

7. Korus — chorus

8. Nightmar — nightmare

9. Turnep — turnip

10. Iland — island

11. Porpess — porpoise

12. Steddy — steady

13. Hainous — heinous

14. Thum — thumb

15. Gillotin — guillotine

16. Spunge — sponge

17. Ake — ache

18. Wimmin — women

19. Determin — determine

20. Giv — give

21. Bilt — built

22. Beleev — believe

23. Grotesk — grotesque

24. Stile — style 

25. Neer — near

26. Sley — sleigh

Inspired by this post from Reddit's Today I Learned.

This article originally ran in 2013.

How and Why Did Silent Letters Emerge in English?

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iStock/Bychykhin_Olexandr

Kory Stamper:

The easy answer is “"because English can’t leave well enough alone."

When we first started speaking English around 600 AD, it was totally phonetic: every letter had a sound, and we sounded every letter in a word. But English—and England itself—were influenced quite a bit by the French, who conquered the island in 1066 and held it for a long time. And then later by Dutch and Flemish printers, who were basically the main publishers in England for a solid two centuries, and then by further trading contact with just about every continent on the planet. And while we’re shaking hands and stealing language from every single people-group we meet, different parts of the language started changing at uneven rates.

By the 1400s, English started to lose its phonetic-ness: the way we articulated vowels in words like “loud” changed slowly but dramatically, and that had an effect on the rest of the word. (This is called “The Great Vowel Shift,” and it took place over a few hundred years.) Somewhere in the middle of the GVS, though, English spelling became fixed primarily because of the printing press and the easy distribution/availability of printed materials. In short: we have silent letters because the spelling of words stopped changing to match their pronunciations.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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